It seems a little dramatic to say that our match against Reading could decide who achieves automatic promotion, but it’s hard not to see it that way. A win for Reading would see them go four points clear of us and, when you consider their incredible form, I doubt we would could leapfrog them over the six remaining fixtures!
There is a lot of talk across Twitter of the importance of being positive and this is so true; the Reading match needs to be all about the positive atmosphere! I haven’t looked forward to a game this much all season and I reckon the crowd will be well up for it.
Big Sam appears to be getting sick of the negativity surrounding the club and he’s been resolute in defending his tactics and performances. While I agree that it’s hard to complain when we’re pushing for automatic promotion and have won 11 away games this season, I have felt an increased sense of frustration lately.
We have had so many opportunities to get to the peak of this league and stay there, but our recent run of draws has seriously dented our chance of automatic promotion. The simple truth is this: yes, we have seen some good spells of football – more than over the last two years – but we have also seen far too much hoofing and long ball tactics. Sam openly states he doesn’t understand why he is known as a long ball merchant, but it is there for all to see, I’m afraid. I have seen some shocking games this season, where the team has just constantly pumped long balls forward to an inadequate lone striker.
I thought Sam would bring in a strong mentality and forge a team that would grind out 1-0 wins, which we have on occasion, but our inability to keep the lead till the final whistle has cost us far too many points this season. Sam seems to think 1-0 is a safe result, and on going a goal up he will make his team more defensive, only to concede and drop two points. Were he more adventurous and attacking, we would have been able wrap up games far more efficiently.
The Reading match is a perfect test for Allardyce’s maiden season in charge of us; second spot is in our hands if we want to grasp it. Traditionally, when it’s in our own hands we blow it, but just how much has Sam turned us into a professional club again? I’m really looking forward to finding out!
Finally, for Sam to question our support is a big mistake. It is magnificent and is there for all to see, every week, win or lose! We’ve endured a few years of total on-field crap from our club and we still show up in our thousands. It’s our right to let him know if we don’t think he is doing a good enough job!
The players and manager don’t seem to understand that we cheer them on to the hilt but they need to meet us half way! Any one of us is entitled to let Sam know we don’t like his negative approach to the game. Of course the crowd will grow restless if we are witness to repetitive long balls or seeing players out of position. Don’t get me started on how much we are wasting the goal-scoring talents of Sam Baldock and Nicky Maynard; great strikers they are – not wide players. Sam can talk all day about our strikers misfiring, but the truth is that he isn’t playing to their strengths! It’s infuriating to see poachers like Baldock and Maynard shoved out on the wings; why aren’t we building out tactics around feeding them with crosses?
Christ, I’m sounding too negative now. My point is that it is OK to let the team know they aren’t working hard enough, or let a manager know his tactics are poor, but let’s not let it define us. Let’s remain vocal behind the team and not let the Boleyn descend into a nervous library-like atmosphere.